Friday, 25 May 2018
I’m really getting a lot out of The Vine at Grace Cathedral. These Wednesday evening Masses seem to use the lectionary for the Sunday preceding. So the Gospel reading used for 23 May 2018 was the selection from John about the Advocate, which is the common translation of the Paraclete.
I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the woman who preached that evening, so I can’t name her here. I ask permission before naming folks in my blog posts anyway, and I just wasn’t thinking that far ahead when I was talking with her after the Mass. But, she had offered various definitions for Paraclete, saying that the closest English translation would probably be, “the one called to our side.” This really spoke to me.
Her sermon illustration revolved around a women’s jail ministry she’s a part of. She talked of how the women in Pod D of the San Francisco jail reacted to the idea that the Holy Spirit is usually represented by a divine feminine energy. The women were amazed and uplifted by the idea of their bodies being seen as godly, as the Paraclete could be seen as a sort of spiritual doula or midwife.
I found this odd. I’m transgender: designated male at birth and raised as a boy even though I always felt something was not quite right about this. But never in my Christian life, as a Roman Catholic child or as a Protestant adult, had I ever thought of my gendered body as being reflected in divine imagery. The idea that God made wo/man in his God’s image never really “clicked” for me regarding gendered anatomy. Apparently this is not necessarily the case for others, as evidenced by the story of these women reacting to the idea that their bodies were images of God.
The first time I ever thought that my gendered body could somehow be reflected in divinity was when I attended a ritual at PantheaCon 2013, a ritual devoted to The Tetrad. The Tetrad was a four-being deity group in which all four beings are transgender in one way or another. That group is now known as The Tetrad++ as the priest who divined them divined two more beings. Of the six beings in the Tetrad++ (Panpsyche All-soul, Panhyle All-body, Paneros All-love, Pancrates All-power, Paneris All-strife, and Panprosdexia All-acceptance) transcend gender in very specific ways. So while I can certainly understand being taken in by the idea of my gendered body being holy, I really don’t experience that in Christianity. The closests might be in “eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven,” but even then that’s not so much divine as it it pledging one’s body to the divine, to me.
But, this is just one of the reasons I’m a Christo-Pagan. My soul is fed in different ways by my different faith traditions. It’s not that The Vine this past Wednesday didn’t feed me, it’s just that part of the sermon didn’t quite work. And that’s okay. We come to worship, take what we need (which isn’t necessarily the same as what we want) and leave the rest.
Amen, and Blessed Be!